An investigation has been launched by East and North Herts Hospital NHS Trust after its Lorenzo IT system failed to send out up to 25,000 discharge summary letters to local GPs.
The letters, which should have been mailed out from Lister Hospital in Stevenage, contained vital information regarding test results, hospital treatments and prescribed medication.
Michael Chilvers, the Trust’s medical director, said: “Following the introduction of a new electronic patient record system – Lorenzo – at the Trust in September 2017, a detailed review carried out recently by the Trust has not been able to identify sufficient evidence that discharge summaries were issued for around 14,600 of people during this period.”
He added that there is currently no evidence that the tech failure led to any patients coming to harm, although the Trust is urgently prioritising the review of discharge summaries for those patients where a follow-up action (such as a further appointment or test being carried out) might have been needed.
A matter of urgency
Chilvers said: “These patients will have their records reviewed individually and should any outstanding actions be discovered, the Trust take the lead in getting them sorted – this will include informing any individual patients involved, as well as their GPs.
“Although the majority are expected not to contain any follow-up actions that have still to take place, where they are identified then the Trust will ensure that these are completed as a matter of urgency.
“The Trust’s foremost priority is to provide our patients with high quality care that keeps them safe from harm.”
Shadow Health Secretary Jonathan Ashworth said a full inquiry is required and demanded to know why the incident, first identified in July, had not been reported to the public or Parliament.
He said: “It’s staggering that a hospital trust failed to send up to 25,000 vitally important patients’ discharge summaries to local doctors. We now need a full inquiry into whether patients have been harmed or lives lost as a result.
“Our thoughts must be with the thousands of patients who will be going through worry and anguish as a result of these unacceptable failures.”
Several NHS Trusts throughout the UK have been using Lorenzo, which is run by US IT services firm, DXC (formerly CSC), despite it being heavily criticised in recent years.
In 2013, former Commons Public Accounts Committee chair, Margaret Hodge, expressed disbelief at the mismanagement of the CSC contract by the NHS, which is said to have cost the NHS £600 million. She described CSC as “rotten” and its Lorenzo software as “hopeless”.